SSR 80-6


PURPOSE: To state new policy concerning the effect of remarriage on the benefit rate payable to the widows and widowers of social security workers. This change was made by the Social Security Amendments of 1977.

CITATIONS (AUTHORITY): Section 336, Public Law 95-216 (Social Security Amendments of 1977); Section 202(e) and 202(f) of the Social Security Act; Regulations No. 4, sections 404.335-404.338.

PERTINENT HISTORY: Prior to the 1977 amendments the law provided that if a widow or widower remarried after attaining age 60 (except for marriages to certain specified beneficiaries), the benefit for such widow or widower while the subsequent marriage existed was less than the benefit payable to a widow or widower who had not remarried. The remarried widow's or widower's benefit was equal to one-half of the primary insurance amount (PIA) of the deceased spouse, whereas an unremarried widow's or widower's benefit (before reduction for age) was equal to the deceased spouse's PIA.

Congress was concerned that this provision of the law was deterring elderly persons from remarrying lest they lose benefits. Thus, the 1977 amendments provide that, effective for months after December 1978, the benefit rate of an entitled widow or widower who has remarried after attaining age 60 will be the same sa if such widow or widower had not remarried.

POLICY STATEMENT: (1) For months after December 1978, the benefit rate of a widow or widower who remarries after attaining age 60 is no longer affected by reason of marriage. The benefit continues as if the marriage had not occurred. (2) For remarried widows and widowers entitled to benefits in December 1978 the amount of benefits is recomputed to pay the rate (beginning in January 1979) that would have been payable if the new provision had been in effect during the period of the subsequent marriage. (3) Where a remarried widow or widower and other beneficiaries are entitled to benefits in December 1978, the increase in the remarried widow's or widower's rate in January 1979 does not reduce the benefits of other entitled beneficiaries even though the family maximum is exceeded. The rates of other beneficiaries are not reduced to less than the amounts to which they were entitled in December 1978.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Final regulations covering these policies were published in the Federal Register on June 15, 1979, at 44 FR 34479.

CROSS-REFERENCES: Claims Manual Sections 408-456.

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